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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  February 27, 2013 12:00am-12:30am PST

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. tonight, a conversation about how the digital revolution can transform with gavin newsom, debating just about every aspect of our lives. he looks at how this revolution in communications can shed a politicians and lay the groundwork for in-democracy, with a new book. we are glad you have joined us. a conversation with former san francisco mayor gavin newsom, coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do.
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walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. tavis: i am sure none of us has to be reminded just how much twitter, facebook, and instagram an old email as transform our lives. in a new text called "citizenville," gavin newsom looks at how it can help break through gridlock and ensure that
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everyone in this country as a seat at the decision making. good to have you on. >> thanks. tavis: first of all, congratulations on your wife's recent spirit award. >> yes, she just one of the spirit award, and then they are nominated for their documentary called "the invisible war," which is about raved in the military. understanding some of the complexities. even if only 10 percent of this film is right, as i told my wife, we should stop and own up to it. leon panetta weighed in on this, and hopefully others will. it goes to the frustration. this is frankly one of the reasons why i wrote this book. i am so disinterested and increasingly disengaged with these stale debates over who is to blame. i want to focus more on what we can do, break this logjam and
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the sparse monday that exists in not only in d.c. but states like california and a lot of local governments. tavis: first of all, about your wife. >> you are going to get in trouble. tavis: you have to go home. >> i have got a three-year-old girl, a son, and a new girl. and you know girls and their dads, so i am ecstatic. tavis: you did not have kids at that time. how has that changed? i am coming to citizenville. in this world, at this time, how is that impacting you? >> i watch my 1-year-old daughter literally on my ipad
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and my iphone, and i call my wife, at "you have got to come home and see this. this is the one. call all of the news squirm -- the news people. and then we go to school, and then i think, maybe she is not a prodigy. she is wired differently. she is digital. we are a digital immigrants learning this language. we are not like that. you cannot frame the debate in terms of the engagement of government the way we have. they are going online. amazon, for example. you are getting 24-hour service, seven-days per week, and you can buy groceries, and then you go to giambi, when you are in an analog world. you are filling out a lot of forms because we are dealing with 1970's-era technology. we are completely disconnected,
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government, in our ability to deliver services. my son and daughter, and everybody's sons and daughters. tavis: you advanced past me to get married and have kids. i have not gotten there on either front. there was a conversation not long ago, and this came up. family and kids, the other half not married. and interesting conversation ensued about whether or not now is a good time. selfish on a certain level, but it was a real conversation about whether these are dangerous times to be raising kids. how it is that one finds hope to raise a kid successfully given all that you are up against in this society. obviously, with three babies and one on the way, you are not scared. >> look, you go back to the human side, and the answer i wanted to give, all of a sudden, i am not so into this situation.
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you start having a kid, you think sustainably. you think long term. all of a sudden, your frame of reference changes. working 24/7, putting the crowbar in the wheel of the other person to win the 24-hour news cycle. but when you have children, you think about generational terms. we are always focusing on tomorrow and the next generation. we have lost sight of that. short-term thinking has gone to us in trouble. when you have kids, you start thinking differently. now to your question, i am much more optimistic about the next generation because this is the first global generation. we are raising kids that are more empathetic. these millennial are volunteering more. there are smarter than ever. their iq scores are high. it is harder than ever to get into university. and it is a generation that appreciates other people's points of views, not just tolerating diversity of
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celebrating it. i am hopeful this generation that is being born will be the generation that ultimately builds back the american spirit and dreams. tavis: the only way they do that is we find a way to fix clearly what is a broken governmental system. at the heart of this book, you lay out five things that we can do to fix government privilege it is what you're talking about and why people who read it are interested in it, how we fix what is clearly a broken system. let me go through these five. number one, government has to be transparent. >> our default is closed, is it not? our default is secrecy. if all of this friction and debate around the drone issue. president obama leans into the issue of transparency more than any other president and is also defaulting back into this framework of security, so the principles of this new age, the principles of collaboration, it is about collaboration.
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trust. if you are not open, still holding on to balts of information, you are not going to build that trust, and the problem is we become more and more disengage. local elections in los angeles, 12% of people showing up that are registered, and it is not even a headline because it has been happening for years. people are sick and tired of voting. i think this is a fundamental principle in a new age. tavis: what would be the motivating factor for government to be transparent? because when you put more out there, people know more, and when they know more, they ask more questions, so there are costs, repercussions. why would people in sacramento or anyone else want to be more transparent? >> i talked about this in the book that i have that. the freedom of information. you know that is tomorrow's headline. our default is secrecy.
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but it is a world of hyper transparency. wikileaks did that. at the end of the day, there are no secrets. we are living in a glass area. but technology. folks are doing the right thing with hacking. they are going to make sure that information gets free. so it is either on your terms or someone else's terms. if we have to change that default. tavis: you keep talking of things i want to pick up on. you mentioned wikileaks. what was your view of wikileaks? we know what those in our government thought about it. what did you think? >> it is a reminder of the world we are living in, but at the end of the day, it needs to be cleansed. the light of day is a healthy thing. at the same time, there were correspondents that you want to be able to engage with. you want to be more honest. my only concern about wikileaks is it may actually create a situation be where people are less likely to say what they think, at peril of these things
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being exposed and manipulated, but i think ultimately, again, my bias, openness, transparency, i think it will raise the bar in terms of the likelihood that we are going to be doing things differently. >> so the first part is how government can be more transparent, and then you will be out there to encourage people on how to use the data to create applications, devices, etc.. >> i have been thinking. this whole book came up with this idea. leadership. my father used to talk to me. think about what the former president of czechoslovakian, jon mcconaughey, and others had in common at their peak. a pretty good liner -- bundy -- ghandi, and others had in
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common. they all went to jail. you can argue that mandela and others, when they became president of their countries, they lose some of that moral authority as they had to navigate this. so my point is what about citizenship? what about active citizenship? we do not just want to rebroadcast to come vote, and then have a two-year cycle of broadcasting or a four-year cycle. we want to be actively engaged in the process. this idea of open transparency, putting up data, it is all about active citizen participation. remarkable things happen when you provide access to information. people will do extraordinarily good things with it. tavis: we have to engage fellow citizens on their own terms or at their level. >> and that is the term, a tip a citizenville," -- "citizen
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ville," and my friend, mark pincus, developed farmville. if you are 20 years old, you spend more time online playing games than you do in the classroom. it is about meeting people where there are in terms of technology. people with mobile devices are increasingly social. we are in the cloud. that is where government needs to be. we are still stuck in this giambi model, and then we see our nieces and nephews designing web sites and applications we have never heard of. we have to meet our constituents. tavis: we have to allow people to bypass government and solve problems themselves. >> i have been thinking a lot about this. i am a progressive democrat, and prod of what i have done, but you put in $1, and we do it. if you do not like what you have
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gotten, you kick the proverbial vending machine. protests, generally. to this notion instead of government as a platform, where we are -- it is about active citizen engagement, not doing everything for you, but doing things with you. tavis: your last point is we have to create a more entrepreneurial spirit. the ontario part -- the contras in real -- entrepreneurial. scares me. >> what i mean is trial and error. good decisions and bad. we are still risk averse in many ways because we are so scared of tomorrow's headlines that we do not say what we think. we say one thing privately,
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another publicly. there is a risk. one thing about finding success in the private sector is this feedback loop. decisions, bad. you fail forward fast. you learn from your mistakes. what i mean is in terms of engagement and just the day-to- day governments within the bureaucracy of government itself. tavis: what have you learned? it has only been a little while, but what have you learned at the state level? as a two-term mayor of san francisco, but california, as you know, is bigger than so many countries. you are the lieutenant governor. what are you learning about how convoluted this process is, given that you are the number two guy in california? >> if you do not like the way the world looks when you stand up, stand on your head and go local. i am for the people, the people party.
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we need to engage people again. engaging intends to have a disproportionate to the local level. most people are local optimists. a larger it gets, the more pessimistic we get. proximity confers some legitimacy, to some extent. cities are the laboratories of innovation. laboratories of democracy. but local government, it is the city councils. it is the neighborhoods with and there is. it is the blocked that connect people. that is what i talk about digitizing the town square, using the technology to make sure it is available to everyone. this gives me some optimism. the inability to connect day in and day out with the local government, that is a benefit. >> across the board, in terms of its engagement, one of the critiques against this administration is, like past administrations, they relied too
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much on this notion that the states can decide. you can see that with no child left behind. states to get to decide. states' rights, rather than bypassing those states and going to municipalities. i have been asking. some people have said, "tavis, i listened to these issues." name one thing that he could have been done differently. sending the money to the states. that money could have gone right to the places where people are hurting the most. just one example of why cities are important as a delivery system, etc., etc., but just great for me how you think they have done -- grade for me? >> you have expressed my bias, coming from local government. tavis: that is why i asked. >> you have to go where people
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are directly. we get lost at the state level, and it is difficult for things to passed down, and then you get all of these prescriptive world, and then our hands are tied, and we are not able to deliver, so i think you are 100% right. for the grace of god go any of us with the hands of congress that are tied every single day with its inability to navigate. tavis: absolutely. >> but that said, i wish he was covering the way he campaigns. you think about 2008, 35,000 self organize the community is coming together. it is a wonderful thing. it is the spirit of this book. i would like to change this to a governing philosophy, not just a campaign philosophy. this bottom-up, this community organizing. transcending in transforming. tavis: the way the system works,
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the way you know, states look to the federal government. as we sit here now, who knows, the government could shut down. sequestration could kick in in just a matter of days from where we are. we know the states are not going to be getting in the years ahead from government what they have been accustomed to getting. what the states do not have, they surely will not pass it on. >> you have to deal with reality, right? there is a treasure trove. things are being done to us, not with us. there is an unlimited, untapped possibilities to do extraordinary things. it is not just about financial capital. it is about human capital, people forming connections, seeing things differently. i want to argue for that, but in the absence of its manifestations, i want to create a different constructs of active participation, folks doing
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things in partnership with government that government use to do exclusively but is no longer committing to do. tavis: i keep saying gavin. you are the lieutenant governor. we have been friends for so long. i saw a piece on politico where you were talking specifically about poverty, and i am paraphrasing, and you said that poverty is going to be our greatest regret. how does poverty complicate this process buses and the engagement, when poor people of is the lack of resources, opportunity, time, and by access, i mean internet access, etc.? how does poverty complicates this process? >> it is significant. it has been mitigated by these devices, and i will give credit. the obama administration, they leaned in with about $7.20 billion to begin to address it.
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they are still a long way it. democracy. you cannot have a vibrant democracy or a vibrant middle class. you have to have the ability for a well-established foundation where people can move up and feel they have a stake in the game. it is resources, but it is also resourcefulness. they need to feel that there is equality, that their lives matter, and as people become more segregated in terms of that mind-set, less and less engaged in terms of their participation in the community, the more likely democracy is going to collapse on itself. so these things are profoundly important, and the issues of poverty remain profoundly important. if i may indulge, this $9 minimum wage, been there, done that. in san francisco, $10.55. universal health care, been there, done that. paid sick leave. we also did some things for
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preschool. a model for the country. universal preschool. and the anti-poverty, these measures of build a stronger economy, not just a stronger middle-class. it is outperforming. in many ways, we are their worst nightmare, because we are proving it. tavis: i hate that term minimum wage. it ought to be a living wage, but that is exactly what it is. democrats in washington, a democrat as president in the white house, why are they not more aggressive? the last time the president talked about this, he talked about $9.50. he has dropped down to $9. i love the guy, but he is negotiating a against himself. he started at $9.50, and now he is down at $9. democrats have to be mom about raising it anymore, -- have to
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be mum about raising it aboutmore. -- raising it any more. >> that cheese. we get reelected. look at california. i love my state, and we are turning the corner, but we all got reelected with that unemployment rate. we are a stone's throw away. 25.5% unemployment? by the way, $10.55 is 1 cent off where it would be in 1961 adjusted. it is getting closer to approximate a living wage, closer, but it is not there. it is important that the president set the standard. it is not that we aim too high and miss it, it is that we aim too low and reach it. i would like to see some stretch
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goals. i would like to think beyond. once something is stretch, you and i know it does not go back to its regional form. it is, again, leadership that matters. leaders are not leading. tavis: speaking of leaders, you are a member of the leadership, the lieutenant governor of california. for years, what happens in california politics, it either cast a long shadow or a long sunbeam across the country. it cast a long shadow or a long some beam -- sunbeam. in california, we were leaders. it had an impact across the country. is that still true? >> you are right. we were a state of dreamers and entrepreneurs, being on the cutting edge of new ideas, that pioneering spirit.
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infrastructure. research and development, second to none. education, absolutely right, not just higher education, which is still the conveyor belt for the country, but k through 12. we stopped investing in those engines of growth and opportunity. we started taking, frankly, things for granted. we have done a good job, and i give them all of the credit in the world, the leadership getting things back into balance. back to solvent. we have to get back to greatness. we have to focus again on the spirit that connects people from different backgrounds, geographically, the coastlands. focus again on this notion of citizenship. that one thing that should bind every single one of us together and elevate this notion. tavis: every time i talk to
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gavin newsom, i always look at the title he is holding when i see him, because there is a chance the next time i see him, he will have a different title. today, he is lieutenant governor of california. i do not think that is the last title you will hold in the state or this nation. gavin newsom. this is his latest book. lieutenant governor, always nice to see you. >> thank you. tavis: that is our show for tonight. we will see you tomorrow. until then, as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at join me next time for a conversation with a comedian, and george wallace, as he celebrates the lifetime achievement award for nearly four decades in comedy.
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that is next time. we will see you then. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i just try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminate hunger, and we have a lot of work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> be more. pbs.
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